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Family Member of Victim in Atlanta Shooting Rampage Speaks to CNN; House Democrats Criticized for Weighing an Ejection of GOP Winner in Contested Iowa Race; McCarthy Claims He Never Backed Trump's Effort to Overturn Election; FBI Releases New Video of Officers Being Assaulted During Capitol Riot; Russia Recalls Ambassador after Biden Calls Putin a "Killer"; U.S. & Chinese Officials Meet in China Amid Growing Tensions. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 18, 2021 - 14:30   ET



DANA TOOLE, SISTER WAS AMONG THOSE KILLED IN GEORGIA RAMPAGE: I just hope -- I hope there's justice. I hope that we can prevent stuff like this from happening because this is uncalled for.

The gun violence is more of a thing now. Like, you can't even go to the store or a beauty -- you know, anywhere to enjoy your time, enjoy life without worrying if somebody's going to come back home or not.

It's -- I just want things to be made aware. Like, I don't want to get that phone call that I just lost somebody again like this.

It's just -- she was too young. She was only 33. She was only 33.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Too young. Her life too full. Too many people who loved her. Dana, I'm so sorry that she's been taken from you.

And I appreciate you talking with us today. Thank you.

TOOLE: Yes. You're welcome.

KEILAR: Dana Toole with us here. Thank you.

We'll be back in just a moment.



KEILAR: Months after lambasting former President Trump for trying to reverse his electoral defeat, House Democrats are facing criticism from Republicans over their review of a contested congressional race that could potentially overturn a state-certified Republican victory in Iowa.

CNN's Manu Raju is following this for us and is joining us from the Hill.

And, Manu, you just asked the House minority leader about this and things got pretty heated so explain the back story here first.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This really has to do with the Iowa race before the House right now. The Republican certified winner of this race, Congressman Mariannette Miller-Meeks.

The Democrat, who lost that race, is contesting this before the House and argues that this race, which was decided by just six votes, the closest margin of any federal race in the country, she says it was not properly counted.

She says there are 22 legally cast ballots that need to be counted for. And she has taken her matter to the House administration committee to try to overturn the elections.

This is a procedure that is rarely used. She did not go through the courts and is going to Congress.

Even though Democrats, of course, criticized Donald Trump for going to Congress to try to overturn the elections, they're saying this is much different. And they're weighing what to do. The proceedings are still playing out.

Republicans, meanwhile, are accusing Democrats of trying to steal a seat. And they're saying that this is a certified winner and Democrats should let this winner actually serve out her term in office.

Now, when I had a chance to ask Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader, how he's OK with what Donald Trump did, which he supported, the effort to overturn the election results in Congress, how -- why he's concerned now about the efforts to overturn the elections of a Republican winner by the Democrats.

He offered a bit of a revised take of history.


RAJU: The Iowa race, in your view, what is different between the efforts there to overturn the elections in the House versus Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the elections in Congress that you supported?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Well, I disagree with the premise of your question.


MCCARTHY: So, if you -- if you challenged Arizona and Pennsylvania, would that have changed and lowered President Biden's numbers below 270?

RAJU: You supported the Texas lawsuit that would have --


MCCARTHY: No, no, no.


MCCARTHY: You ask me questions every week. I just asked you a question.

If you removed Arizona, but you weren't removing it, you were just asking the question about it. If Arizona and Pennsylvania were removed in the Electoral College, would President Biden's number lower below 270?

RAJU: No. But Donald Trump said that --


MCCARTHY: OK, the answer is no.


MCCARTHY: So, you're asking me the question.


RAJU: You supported his efforts, did you not?

MCCARTHY: Let me answer your question since you asked me. Let me follow through.

You gave a premise that's not true.

RAJU: Donald Trump tried to overturn the results in Congress, and you supported that effort.

MCCARTHY: Well, now you're saying something that's not true either. Let me answer your question and show you how your premise is not true.

RAJU: The losing candidate did not organize a rally and say, stop the steal, we can overturn the certification of the Electoral College on January 6th.

MCCARTHY: Do you want to talk to Trump or do you want to ask me the question?

RAJU: Did you not support his efforts?

MCCARTHY: Because I'm here right now. And I'm showing where your question doesn't hold merit.

Now, let me show you another answer.

RAJU: But you supported the Texas lawsuit. Do you regret supporting that lawsuit?

MCCARTHY: No. No. No. No, I don't. You know why? Because it's going to --


RAJU: Did you not support Donald Trump's effort to overturn the election in Congress.

MCCARTHY: No. Didn't we just answer this the first time you asked me? You --


MCCARTHY: How many electoral votes --


RAJU: -- about it. You never raised any concerns about support Donald Trump's effort to organize the rally, to say that --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Other people in the room. Anyone?

MCCARTHY: Oh, he does this every time.


RAJU: So, it went on like that for about five minutes,

Just a bit of a reality check here that Kevin McCarthy voted to overturn the election results in two states, Arizona and Pennsylvania. That happened after the deadly riot that occurred here.

There was a Republican effort to overturn the election on six states that day, among House Republicans. He never raised any concerns about the effort.

That actually did not have a vote because no Senate Republicans joined that effort.

Also, he did back that Texas lawsuit that would have invalidated millions of votes in the run-up to the January 6th certification.


He clearly is not backing away from that, even though Texas was saying other states were administering their elections improperly. He didn't back away from that.

And also, throughout the course of this, Brianna, he never raised concerns about Donald Trump's actions.

I had asked him multiple times through the course of December, up until January, about whether President Biden was president-elect at the time, would he acknowledge that, he would not acknowledge that.

He didn't raise any concerns with what Trump was doing and was on television doing one FOX News at one point saying that Donald Trump won the election.

So, a revised take from the Republican leader here walking back from his past support of what Donald Trump was doing, either tacit support or overt support.

But nevertheless, he is saying this is different than what the Democrats are doing in considering whether to overturn that contested Iowa race -- Brianna?

KEILAR: He was right about you doing this every time, but this is asking factual questions, as you always do.

Manu Raju, thank you so much, live for us from the Hill.

Next, as Congress votes to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police, the FBI releases new video of some of the most violent attacks on those officers.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch out. Watch out.





KEILAR: Just into CNN, the FBI has released several new videos showing police officers being brutally assaulted during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

In one piece of footage, a mass of rioters bashing officers with whatever instruments they could find.

And a warning, this is graphic. It is tough to watch.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Watch out, watch out.



KEILAR: Now, the FBI video zooms in on this scene to show someone in the mob with a large pipe or pole of some kind, and the individual swinging it at officers' heads.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is with me now on this story.

What can you tell us about these dramatic new videos? They are terrible. And tell us why the FBI is releasing them now.


You know, the FBI, they really have been working around the clock for more than two months now. And they've been combing through thousands of hours of video footage to really pinpoint the perpetrators of these vicious and violent attacks on these officers.

But you know, they have been having trouble identifying the suspects here, and now they're once again pleading with the public for help.

We heard from the assistant director in charge of the FBI field office here in Washington today and basically said they're hoping that someone somewhere out there will recognize somebody in these videos.

So today, they released 10 video clips. It showcases 10 of who they're describing as their most violent offenders.

And you know, Brianna, we've seen hours and hours of these videos before, but these really seem to be almost more appalling and striking.

And we're seeing how much hate and violence they're really committing here. You can see it in these videos.

That one with chemical spray, fire extinguishers, they really grabbed at anything they could find to attack these officers.

So, the FBI now saying that, of course, we've already seen more than 300 arrests. They've arrested 65 of those people for assaulting law enforcement.

But you know, they've relied on tips from the public. We saw earlier this week that two people were arrested for assaulting officers, including Officer Brian Sicknick.

So they're hoping these videos will prompt more tips. And they're directing people to their Web site, Brianna,

KEILAR: You think, you know, we've seen it all. But then you look at these clips, and you see the worst of the moments, and you really understand what officers there were up against that day.


KEILAR: Jessica, thank you so much for that story.

The White House says President Biden has no regrets about calling the Russian president a killer. Hear how Putin is responding today.



KEILAR: Russia is firing back after President Biden called Vladimir Putin a "killer." Russia's now yanking its ambassador to the U.S. And Putin sent President Biden an unusual message to Biden, saying "be healthy." CNN's senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance, is tracking

the reaction in Moscow.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, the Kremlin furious at the president's remarks, calling them unprecedented words, and ordering the Russian ambassador to the U.S. back to Moscow for consultations.

Vladimir Putin responded personally to the U.S. president, saying on national television here that he wishes him well and good health, a wink perhaps at the rampant speculation by state media that Joe Biden's mental health is faltering because of his old age.

Putin also citing an old Russian children's joke, which says you are what you say others are. It takes on to know one, in other words.

The diplomatic spat between the two world's biggest nuclear powers has come down to that.

And behind the sneers, there's concern in Russia, that the already fraught relationship with the U.S., which has seen President Biden take a tough stance against the attacks on political figures and imposing sanctions, is set to get a whole lot worse, not better -- Brianna?


KEILAR: All right, Matthew, thank you.

Officials from the world's two largest economies are set to meet in Alaska today. Secretary of State Tony Blinken meeting with Chinese diplomates for the first time since President Biden took office.

This encounter in happening days after the U.S. sanctioned of 24 officials in China and Hong Kong.

CNN's Ivan Watson takes a look at the mounting tensions in the U.S.- China relationship.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, both the Biden administration and the Chinese government have tried to lower the expectations ahead of the meeting in Alaska, because the tensions are mounting this week.

And there are a whole host of differences. The Biden administrations slapping sanctions on 24 top Chinese officials, accusing Beijing of stripping Hong Kong of its Democratic freedoms.

Beijing firing back saying it's an interference in internal affairs and vowing some kind of counter measures.

[14:55:02] There are other disputes over China's human rights records, over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and East Sea.

And the Chinese has gone into this saying expect no compromise or concessions ahead of these talks, the face-to-face talks, which are taking place, of course, on American soil.


KEILAR: Ivan, thank you.

We are minutes away from a news conference about the spa shootings that killed eight people. We will bring that to you live as Atlanta police share what they know about the case.